The Criminal Finances Bill 2016: time for change?

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Author: Dr. Nicholas Ryder, Professor in Financial Crime, University of the West of England, Bristol.

The Criminal Finances Bill represents the most comprehensive legislative to tackle financial crime since the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act in 2002.  The Bill represents the conclusion of several financial crime measures that have been introduced since the last general election.  For example, this includes the publication of the National Risk Assessment for Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in October 2015, the publication of the ‘Action Plan for anti-money laundering and terrorist finance, the creation of the Panama Papers Task Force and the Anti-Corruption Summit in London.

The Bill introduced a number of measures aimed at improving the ability to investigate the proceeds of crime, provisions to improve the use of suspicious activity reports, obligations to enhance the confiscation of the proceeds of crime, instruments to tackle the facilitation of tax evasion and amendments to the counter-terrorist financing legislative framework.

The Criminal Finances Bill has introduced a number of important measures that could improve how the UK seeks to tackle financial crime.  However, the effectiveness of these measures could be determined by not the desire and ambitions of politicians by of response by law enforcement agencies, who have adopted an apathetic stance towards instigating criminal proceedings against financial criminals.

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